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Born at the Right Time: Digital Storytelling Resources for UW Students
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Born at the Right Time: Digital Storytelling Resources for UW Students


A short presentation outlining a program for equipping students and faculty with study-abroad programs to bring back well made digital stories from their experiences

A short presentation outlining a program for equipping students and faculty with study-abroad programs to bring back well made digital stories from their experiences

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  • Since the beginning of class, I have had a Paul Simon tune rattling around my head. He wrote Born at the Right Time in 1990. That was the same year the Center for Digital Storytelling was born at Berkeley. Enter Rob Salkowitz two decades later with Young World Rising. Storytelliing has exploded and the youth of today are still “born at the right time. Here’s a look at what is happening now.
  • So, I have created a set of tools and a brief training program to equip our students as they study abroad.It has four elements that I will talk about in depth as we move through this presentation.Two are skills basedOne is directed at the production of their work to a broad, and potentially global, audience.And the fourth addresses issues of working with the subjects of their stories and not for the goals of the filmmaker alone.
  • First, the module related to basic skills.This will be introduced as a training program that covers all of the digital media training elements we receive in the Digital Storytelling series in MCDM. It covers the story, preparing the equipment to capture the story, what makes a good interview, and how to publish the work.In addition, we will discuss the means of preserving ownership of the work (or making it sharable through creative commons) and protecting the filmmaker against claims after the production is done.These modules will be presented during a faculty member’s orientation to the course work that comprises the study abroad.
  • Second, there is a double sided quick reference guide that can be used in the field. It is a reminder of the training and a checklist for keeping the production on track. I hope to give the students tools that will make them more self-reliant in their potentially stressful environment. Hopefully, much of the gear they use to make digital stories will be tropically tolerant.
  • Distribution of video today is pretty straightforward if your narratives are personal or in brief documentary form. There are two schools of thought in the context of study abroad – do it all in the field which requires a lot of time, and capture the stories in the field with editing and distribution back home in a controlled environment. In either case, editing software and a connection to the Internet are required.I am limiting the discussion to works that can be produced in a short term, or quarter-long study abroad program. In many cases, the subject matter will be short, personal narrative or short form storytelling that supports one of the requirements of the class.
  • This brings us to a conundrum that is one of the really challenging elements of digital storytelling in a remote setting. The question is are we Making our subjects colleagues or objects, and poses an ethical dilemma for filmmakers. There is quite a body of scholarly research that cautions researchers to carefully determine whether the presence of the camera will change the outcomes of the research and, even worse, place the subjects of the film in political danger. It is also very important to the outcome of these works to enhance the host’s ability to promote its own activities.My paper addresses these concerns and provides a checklist for students and faculty to consider in deciding how to pursue their stories in this context.Nothing is without challenges, but like any innovative project, the rewards to all can be very beneficial.


  • 1. Born at the Right Time:
    Equipping Students to be
    Better Digital Storytellers
    By: Harry Hayward
    For: Com 597 Emerging Markets in Digital Media
  • 2.
  • 3. Distribution to the world
    “How To”
    Student Storytelling
    Tool Kit
    Offshore Partner support
  • 4. “How To”
    Preparing for the shoot
    A good story
    Interviewing techniques
    Copyright & Releases
    Editing and Distribution
  • 5. Portable
    Tool Kit
    Portable Toolkit – 2 pages
    Story Lighting
    Sound Camera
    Interview B-Roll
    Editing techniques/Software
  • 6. Distribution to the world
  • 7. Offshore Partner support
    Collaboration…or educational tourism?
  • 8. Credits:
    Paul Simon , Born at the Ridht time – Rhythm of the Saints – Warner Bros. Records, 1990
    African child with flip camera Whiteafrican – Flickr creative commons
    Schoolvan – subcomandata – flckr creative commons
    Indiankids – kn – flickr creative commons
    Gultori school – Central Asia Institute
    Dfsi-democratizaion – flickr creative commons
    La Cangreja – UW Prof. Susan Bolton
    Baja – CHID program
    Outdoor lecture – Friday Harbor Labs
    Hanoi Classroom – UW School of Public Health
    Jacob Harris with Ghanaian Surgeons – UW Global Health
    1st Year medical student – UW Global Health
    Wastewater-rufi – UW college of Engineering